Home Forums The Japanese Language I'm Stuck And Discouraged

This topic contains 30 replies, has 8 voices, and was last updated by  adel tirouche 9 years, 8 months ago.

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    I love that second video haha. It makes me feel better that I can’t speak very quickly in Japanese, and that hopefully those I meet in the future will forgive me for it.
    I’m having a little difficulty in understanding what the guy in the first video means by his method. He’s saying that basically…in knowing what a kanji sounds like you can get a gist of whatever vocab comes your way?

    Excalibuuuuur. Excalibuuuuur.

    @michicachan999: “The guy in the first video” is missingno15 himself ;)

    @missingno15: You said in your video you were taking a year off to focus on programming. What exactly are you working on? Just curious :)

    Also, it’s weird seeing you on video for the first time after having “known” you for a few years already!

    Also, thanks again for Tobira, it’s pretty good :D Still not finished it as I’ve been busy with uni stuff for most of the time since I got it, but I’m getting there; about halfway through atm.


    Ah, neato! Lots of people on here that make videos on youtube. :D That’s wonderful!
    Care to help clarify the method Mr. Missingno15 is presenting?

    Excalibuuuuur. Excalibuuuuur.


    @MisterM2402 Please excuse my untidy hair in that video. I should have gotten a haircut when I had the chance. I’m working as a Junior Full Stack Software Engineer contractor on a project for a startup in which if I were to divulge that information, I would have to kill you. And then commit sudoku. I’m primarily a Rails dev (because that’s all I know…so far at least). I am however, rebuilding my personal website so that it’s a Rails app which may very closely resemble Danny Choo’s website in layout so that its not a goddam static single scrolling page.

    @michicachan999 Unfortunately, I don’t normally make Youtube videos, but when I do, it’s stuff like this. Anyway it’s basically the reverse of what you said earlier: “…in knowing what a kanji sounds like you can get a gist of whatever vocab comes your way?”. Learn a ton of vocabulary, then you will naturally start to pick up the readings for kanji because you will start to see trends. If there’s a word with an irregular reading, then just straight up learn that word’s irregular reading and remember that its read differently. And then by knowing kanji readings by learning a ton of words, you can more or less guess like 75% of the time how to read a word even if you encounter a word you haven’t seen before. If you read this article from Tofugu , I am heavily opinionated towards the “Vocabulary & Experience” Camp and my video is an attempt to explain that within my 5 minute constraint. Koichi argues that the latter, (the bit after: “You can see the logic there, and why this actually does end up working. But, I’d like to argue that it’s better to go the other direction.”) is the better way, but I argue that this way is better because the way that Koichi describes presents a kind of n+1 problem, you will do something like as memorize meanings and then readings for kanji separately which is a bit redundant and can slow you down whereas you do something a little bit more complex by compressing that all together by learning words since you can learn both meanings and readings through learning vocab AND you have usable knowledge which makes this way is more efficient. Also even after you go and learn all the meanings and readings of kanji, you still end up having to learn vocab anyway.

    n+1 problem doesn’t make sense to the layman so let me use a bit of contrived numbers.

    The amount of 常用漢字 you need to learn is about 2200. That is 2200 meanings or more, but let’s just say 1 meaning per 漢字, so 2200. Then you need to learn the readings, let’s assume that half of 漢字 has one reading and the other half has 2 readings. 1100 + 4400 = 5500. Then you go through the process of learning vocab. Let’s say that was 10,000.

    So that’s:
    2200(漢字の意味) +
    5500(漢字の読み) +
    10,000(語彙) =
    17,700 items you need to learn.

    As opposed to:

    10,000 items you need to learn.

    So why go through 7,700 items first before going into the meat of the 10,000 useful items when you can go straight to the 10,000 useful items and you’ll pick up the other 7,700 items along the way.

    NOW I UNDERSTAND THAT THIS IS A BIT OF A CONTRIVED EXAMPLE AS THERE ARE MANY HOLES TO THE NUMERICAL EXAMPLE, but this is the best way I can explain it’s efficiency at 2:30am in the morning. I also like how explaining methodology turned into me debating instead of explaining so I apologize for that. I do hope though that it was a little bit more understandable. Also @MisterM2402 will help me out with this.

    tl;dr for everyone: vocab – efficient. heisig – inefficient

    tl;dr for Developers, Software Engineers etc. : Heisig approach = N+1 problem, learning vocab = eager loading.

    To wrap up, an unrelated video. Speaking of Tokyo Girls Style, anyone going to JPOP Summit this weekend in San Francisco? We can totally meet up if you want. Or if you’re in LA and want to talk about Japanese learning (OR MAYBE IDOLS ALSO..!??!??!) in person, I’m here until the beginning of August. Just go to my website which I linked in the beginning of this post and let me know.

    • This reply was modified 9 years, 9 months ago by  missingno15. Reason: since when do href tags need absolute paths



    I must preface this by saying I am in no way disagreeing with you or saying Heisig > everything or anything like that. I am still in the very super early stages of learning so I’m in no position to do such a thing.

    So, in learning vocab as a means to learn kanji, how good(/long?) is the retention on that? And maybe this is more detail than you’d like to get into here, but how do you structure that way of learning? I guess an alternative way to ask that is how do you decide what order to do this in?

    This is mainly why I like the Heisig method, because it’s easy to find the structure, and there’s a procedure to it. As James May says, I like procedures.

    I haz a blog http://maninjapanchannel.wordpress.com/ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qLQzB-1u-dg


    Everything you need (I hope) is here


    Is there a way to maybe meet in the middle somehow?
    So far I like the Heisig method. I find that knowing what a kanji means helps a lot with it sticking in my brain, because mnemonic devices work wonderfully for my mind. Yet, the Heisig method does not include learning readings, of course.
    So, after going through most of the kanji meanings (and learning how to write them), is it possible to start learning readings through your method? That way it becomes a two-step process instead of another “Remember the kanji and readings at the same time” ordeal. The brain doesn’t become overwhelmed.
    For myself it is easier to chunk things up into sections of learning than to throw myself into all of it. ^^;

    Excalibuuuuur. Excalibuuuuur.



    The best way to find out is to try it, methinks ;)


    Oh excellent, thanks! I will definitely give that a lookover!

    I haz a blog http://maninjapanchannel.wordpress.com/ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qLQzB-1u-dg


    It’s not a race to see who can master japanese more quickly. Your way would likely never work for me but I do great with methods like linq along with RTK. What bugs me is that every person that can speak japanese always seems to know what’s the best way to learn the language. Only few seem to understand that what for you worked doesn’t have to work for me. In the end all these tips and tricks are junk and I need to figure out my own way.




    You’re 100% right that it’s a highly individualised process! There is no right or wrong. Although I think it is good for people to share what worked for them. It can give you ideas. What I’m going to call the “learning through exposure” method is great for some folks, but people like you or I (I’m guessing you’re similar, anyway) thrive on the structure and order of the Heisig method.

    I haz a blog http://maninjapanchannel.wordpress.com/ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qLQzB-1u-dg


    Sharing is great yeah, otherwise I wouldn’t have found the things that work for me (for the moment at least since that might change). But people shouldn’t make it sound like their way is the ultimate way to learn :x

    • This reply was modified 9 years, 9 months ago by  Ryuukun.

    Sharing is great yeah, otherwise I wouldn’t have found the things that work for me (for the moment at least since that might change). But people shouldn’t make it sound like their way is the ultimate way to learn :x

    Who is making their way seem like it is the ultimate way of learning?
    If you’re bothered by it then I’m surprised you’re on TF to begin with. Kouichi makes TF seem like THE way to learn Japanese, and reminds you quite frequently. :P

    Excalibuuuuur. Excalibuuuuur.


    So the thing with learning through vocab, while I do point it out that you are learning kanji meanings and readings through vocabulary, the effort is more concentrated on learning vocab words which entails usually a meaning of a word and how that specific word is read. And as you’re doing that, as a side effect you just start to pick up on trends through realization after knowing a ton of words (“oh I’m beginning to think this kanji means this”, “this kanji is most likely read as this”).

    But to get back to your question, yes it is very possible to start learning readings through this method. Either way, people who do Heisig tend to study vocab after completing Heisig and get the revelation of being able to pick up on readings through vocab anyway.

    Now the problem I have with that is I came up with the same conclusion and results but without the whole doing Heisig for 3~? months and I feel like I can help people save an incredible amount of time which is why I try to tell people about the vocab and experience thing. Also, if you’ll end up doing the same thing in the end, why go through this tedious process?

    BUT the fact of the matter is that Heisig seems to help people out for reasons that are beyond my understanding so don’t feel pressured by me or some other person to do a certain method. The best method is to try all the methods and to spend some time thinking about the meta stuff – “How much did I achieve and can I optimize what I’m doing now?”, “Is the current method working for me right now and can I optimize that, or do I need to try something else?”.



    I found the RTK method to be really engaging and easy, which is probably why a lot of people do it. It may well not be the most efficient way but it can give a sense of accomplishment and establish good routines and habits that can be applied in later study. I think trying to dive head first into heavy vocab study is daunting and difficult especially if you haven’t established the practice.

    For some though (an I include myself here), RTK probably was the most efficient way to get me to know what I really needed to know. Most of us have a goal of fluency (however you define it) and RTK may not be the most direct path to that, but others also have some intermediate gals that deviate from the straight line path from complete ignorance to perfection. I was living in Japan when I started learning and, though conversational fluency was a goal, I had more immediate problems; reading labels in the grocery store, train schedules, road signs, the buttons on my washing machine, etc. RTK really helped me there; it gave me the ability to deduce meaning from the short bits of written Japanese that were scattered all around me.


    I went through all of RTK 1 diligently, and now use the method missingno15 described in regards to the actual readings.

    To be honest, I do think I could have done RTK in a more efficient way. The best thing to come out of it was a familiarity with kanji in general rather than being able to remember each and every one of them. Before RTK, kanji were basically a mass of inscrutable squiggles, but after, they made sense as individual characters and became way less “scary”. If that makes sense. If I’d focussed on gaining this familiarity rather than doing countless reps on the old flash cards trying to nail down all the English keywords perfectly, I could have finished much quicker, and possibly had similar results.

    What I mean by “focussing on gaining familiarity” is to just learn the radicals and how they fit together to form kanji, also stroke order. Don’t bother with the English keyword “meanings” as much as they’ll come with learning vocab. I did RTK 1 a few years ago and I’ve now forgotten the vast majority of the meanings that I worked so hard to memorise. Nowadays, instead of recalling the Heisig keyword for 動, I just think of the words it’s featured in like 運動, 動く, 自動車, and that helps me with the meaning when I see new words. If I hadn’t specifically learned that Heisig keyword, I would have got the meaning eventually through vocab, which is basically what missingno15 is talking about in relation to kanji *readings*.

    But maybe learning all those keywords and them gradually being phased out is how RTK is supposed to work. Maybe if I’d taken a more streamlined approach, it wouldn’t have worked as well. I really can’t tell unless I could go back and do it again.

    When it comes to learning readings though, I’ll agree with something I think missingno15 was saying. Even if you learn the readings for a kanji, when you come across a new word featuring that kanji, you may be able to guess how it’s read (with a certain % success rate), but you still have to learn *which* reading is actually used and what it means, so does the reading actually help much in that regard? I think readings do help a little in *remembering* how a word is read after you’ve already seen it, but as has been said, these readings can be naturally acquired over time by learning lots of words.

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